It's been a crazy twenty-two years. I went to sleep one night-- you know as a semi-normal person-- and then woke up that next morning with no feeling from the chest down. It was scary because I didn't know what was going on. I spent three weeks in the hospital then left with the multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
The first 15 years were rough. I was on and off of different DMT’s. At one point I was on 26 different medications just for the side effects. The last seven or eight years have been the most promising. I got on a new medication and did amazing on it. It’s when I started to embrace MS and wanting to help people and be more involved.
My good friends Chris and Heather wanted to do whatever they could to start raising awareness for MS. So they started riding for me in Bike MS.
It meant a lot and it was a very emotional time seeing them do that for me. I didn't have the strength to ride so I followed them around in a car. Supporting them and doing whatever I could.
I got to the point where I started to feel a little better and, I was like, "I can't let you do this for me and me just sit here. I have to get out and ride with you.”
So, I started riding. At first, when I came to a stop, a couple of people would have to be there to catch me because I didn't have the strength to get off my bike. I fell a lot while I was getting my balance and strength back. It's been one of the best things that I ever did.
There was a Bike MS event four months after I had open-heart surgery. It was scary getting back on the bike so soon after surgery. We fought the weather for two days. We were chased by hail storms and wind storms the entire way. The MS Society-- Bike Ms-- was out sweeping people off the course because of how dangerous it was. We refused. We knew they were coming and hid from them under a bridge or in a driveway because they were forcing people off the course. But my team of 14 rallied around me. They said, “You're finishing the ride this year!” I ended up riding the 150 miles over two days. It was the only year I've ever finished. All because my team came in around me. They got me to the finished line. It was truly an amazing experience.